By Christina Forgeron, Columnist
Why is reading so important?
Of all the things we can do as parents to give our children a leg up in life, this is the big one – to ensure they enjoy reading. There are endless statistics that correlate reading with academic success. I’ve heard parents say, “I don’t read and I’m successful. I don’t know what all the hype is around reading. Why do schools push it so hard? What about those of us who work with our hands?”
It’s pretty simple really. Reading unlocks academic ability and confidence, and lacking confidence in reading is an obstacle your child will need to work around. Reading is the gateway habit to finding ourselves, defining our abilities and supercharging our understanding of the topics we are passionate about and the world around us. When we read, we are actively building skills in spelling, writing, vocabulary, grammatical understanding, and of course, the knowledge base about the topic being read. It is something that you can do as a parent to infinitely influence your child’s confidence and ability in school.
Let’s change the lens we are looking through when we think of reading. Reading is not just homework. Enjoying and sharing books, stories, and information from books, magazines and newspapers is a daily opportunity. You can share space and read. It’s not a crazy idea – I promise. It’s powerful beyond measure!
F.V.R. The goal is to foster a natural desire in children to read. American educational researcher Stephen Krashen has identified the type of reading called F.V.R. – free voluntary reading. This is what you are doing now. No one told you to read this article. Why are you reading it? Feel free to take a moment and answer that question for yourself. It’s the same for kids. Looking at the books in my son’s room reveals an interest in sharks, soccer, natural disasters, and cars. He loves true stories of courage and bravery. He also loves DogMan and CatKid. I respect his book selection process – it’s honest and uncomplicated.
Reading levels the playing field. Anyone can do it. Everyone has access to books.
8 simple suggestions to develop reading in your home. Here are things you can do this week that can create micro changes in your home and begin to increase your child’s academic confidence and enjoyment of reading:
1. Pick a novel to read aloud to your kids each night. There are lots of websites with suggestions for age range and interest. Or email me and we can discuss some ideas.
2. For long drives, put on an audiobook for some of the trip. Again, I can make some great suggestions if you’re curious.
3. Go to Value Village and only visit the book section. You and your children pick 1 or 2 books each. Making choices requires understanding who we are and what we are curious about. Come home and dig into them with a nice snack in a comfortable chair.
4. Visit the library.
5. Read quietly together every day for about 10 minutes.
6. Avoid saying that your child does not like to read. Leave room for them to grow into it.
7. Take an interest in what your child reads and try not to judge, but rather, be genuinely curious about their choices.
8. Keep a book by your bed and read at bedtime.